The Drivers of Perceptions of Anti-Social Behaviour

Mackenzie, Simon; Bannister, Jon; Flint, John; Parr, Sadie; Millie, Andrew and Fleetwood, Jennifer (2010). The Drivers of Perceptions of Anti-Social Behaviour. Home Office Research Report 34; The Home Office.



Anti-social behaviour (ASB) is a confusing term which has been variously applied to a wide spectrum of activity, from serious criminal violence and persistent ongoing intimidation and harassment at one end of the spectrum, to subjective feelings of unease caused by relatively minor and perhaps occasional environmental disturbances, such as litter, at the other. In this report the authors analyse ASB in terms of the seven-strand definition used to measure perceptions in the British Crime Survey (BCS). This definition of ASB tends towards a focus on the less serious end of the ASB spectrum.

The report proposes that perceptions of ASB (‘PASB’), in the technical BCS definition mentioned, are a matter of interpretation. There is frequently a mismatch between an objective measure of ASB, and perceptions. Based on a review of available research studies, the authors model two processes of interpretation that seem to be fundamental in driving this, and suggest that the reason why people make different interpretations of behaviour rests in social connectedness. Consequently, interventions that hold the potential to deliver long-lasting reductions in PASB are rooted in processes of engagement targeted at building empathy and mutual respect.

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